Physical abuse in a relationship is real and it is far more common than what many believe. It is also devastating and life-altering. And most importantly – it happens in silence. It often remains invisible to the outside world, sometimes until it is too late to fix anything.
Whether you or someone you know and care about suffers from physical abuse in a relationship, it can be hard to see the signs and know what is considered physical abuse. Here are a few illuminating facts about physical abuse in relationships and some physical abuse facts that may help the victims in getting the right perspective and the right help.
1. Physical abuse in a relationship is more than just battering
This is because we are taught to view physical abuse in a relationship in a particular way, and if we don’t see that, we begin to doubt whether the abuser’s behavior constitutes as violence at all.
But, being pushed aside, held down against a wall or a bed, “lightly” smacked on the head, dragged along, roughly tugged, or driven recklessly, these all are, in fact, physically abusive behaviors.
2. Physical abuse in a relationship rarely comes alone
Physical violence is the most apparent form of abuse, but it rarely happens in a relationship where there is no emotional or verbal abuse as well.
And any abuse from the person that we were expecting would treat us kindly and protect us from harm is a ruinous experience. But when we add physically aggressive behavior to the emotional torture and verbal insults in a relationship, it becomes a living hell.
3. Physical abuse in a relationship often develops gradually
What counts as physical abuse in a relationship doesn’t necessarily involve being harmed physically, but many forms of verbal abuse can also be constituted in an abusive relationship.
And emotional and verbal abuse can and often present an eerie introduction to a highly toxic and even dangerous relationship.
Not that psychological abuse can’t lead a victim into a range of self-harming beliefs and behaviors, but physical abuse in a relationship usually presents a dark culmination of such a pathological connection.
Not every emotionally abusive relationship reaches that point, but most physically abusive ones are filled with demeaning and controlling behavior at the beginning.
So, if your partner is constantly belittling you, causing you to feel guilty for their aggression and making you believe that you don’t deserve any better, be careful and watch for the signs. They may be on their way towards becoming physically violent as well.
4. Physical abuse in a relationship has long-lasting consequences
A lot of research has been conducted to determine what leads to physical abuse in the marriage, and what it causes. Obviously, there are immediate physical consequences of being tossed around or beaten.
But, these heal (even though they too can have severe and long-term consequences). In its extreme (which is not that rare), physical abuse in a relationship can be life-threatening to the victims.
For those who do survive, being exposed to continuing violence in what should be a loving and safe place results in a number of psychological and physiological changes.
Chronic headaches, high blood pressure, gynecological illnesses, and digestive problems are just a few of the most common consequences for the victims of physical abuse in a relationship.
Adding to these ailments of the body, the psychological damage that results from being in an abusive relationship is equal to the damage to war veterans.
According to some studies, victims of physical violence in relationships or physical violence in marriage are also more susceptible to developing cancer and other chronic and often terminal diseases.
Victims of physical abuse in a relationship (regardless of its duration, frequency, and severity) are at higher risk of developing depression, anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder, or an addiction.
And, since abuse rarely comes without the victim becoming socially isolated, they are left without the protective role our friends and family play in our lives.
5. Suffering alone makes it worse
Victims of abuse know this very well – it seems impossible to leave the aggressor or a physically abusive partner. Regardless of how violent they may be at some moments, they are usually quite seductive and charming in other moments.
The abuse can happen with long periods of seemingly peaceful and quite happy days. But, unfortunately, once a partner has crossed the line of raising their hands to you, it’s highly likely that they will do it again.
Some do it in a few years, others never seem to stop, but it’s rare to see isolated occurrences of physical violence that never happened again, except when they don’t get a chance to repeat what they did.
Can a relationship survive domestic violence? Can a marriage survive domestic violence? Even if you can’t answer these questions, always remember that hiding and suffering alone is never the answer.
Tell someone you trust, get help, get in touch with a therapist, and discuss your possibilities.
Going through physical abuse in a relationship is, without a doubt, one of the most difficult experiences one can have. It is dangerous and has the potential of causing long-lasting negative consequences. Yet, like many other horrible encounters in our lives, this too can be directed towards self-growth.
This doesn’t need to be the thing that destroyed you.
If you feel disconnected or frustrated about the state of your marriage but want to avoid separation and/or divorce, the marriage.com course meant for married couples is an excellent resource to help you overcome the most challenging aspects of being married.
Sylvia Smith loves to share insights on how couples can revitalize their love lives in and out of the bedroom. As a writer at Marriage.com, she is a big believer in living consciously and encourages couples to adopt this principle in their lives too. Sylvia believes that every couple can transform their relationship into a happier, healthier one by taking purposeful and wholehearted action.